“It’s hard to be NEW”… by Heidi Matson

It’s hard to be new. I’ve been the Guest and Community Relations Pastor (aka First Impressions and Assimilation) full time for 2 weeks now. I’m new to the staff and new to the church.  In my first 2 weeks, I have walked into the men’s bathroom mistaking it for the door to the kitchen. Yes, there is a sign on the door but I was so busy trying to find my way through the back halls I didn’t notice it.

In my defense it is right next to the kitchen door. Then, I hit the wrong button on my computer –a p.c. – not a Mac- which sent an archived document to the printer in the amount of 700 pages.  The printe,r by the way, is in the common area so an administrative assistant got to it before I did and exclaimed “Who printed this?!!” There was no escape.

Finally, I managed to set off the alarm very early on a Saturday morning when I’m certain our facilities director was sleeping. Oh, it is hard to be new!!!  There’s so much to remember. So many systems that are just different enough I can’t totally navigate them yet.  Then of course there’s the underlying question leaking out of my heart, “will I fit in here?”.  Such a desire only adds to the pressure of every step or misstep in my case.  Yes, it’s hard to be new.

When was the last time you were new? For a new person everything feels foreign.  Signs that should pop out -don’t.  Activities that are common place to us may be enigmatic to our guests.  Doors we think are obvious, are hard to find.  And all the while our guests are asking, “Will I fit here?”   The answer to that question will come not because we have clear signage- though that’s important. It won’t come because we have great flyers- though they are helpful.   It won’t come because our music is beautiful- though we love beautiful music. It will be answered either because our guests are met with warmth and personal contact; or because they have been left on their own to figure us out. They first will find a place in our gathering; the latter will most likely leave.

My blunders might have served to discourage me were it not for the warmth, grace, and personal connections offered to me as the “nubie”.   “Here, let me show you”, said by the smiling admin with 700 pieces of now scrap paper in her arms, went a long way to bolster my waning security. A sense of humor on the other end of the phone when I called yelling over the screaming siren of the alarm calmed my anxious heart.  And, people regularly telling me they are glad I’m here, begins to answer the question of “will I fit ?”

Your guests are new. They need people to smile, speak warm words, and literally walk along side them to show them the way because it’s hard to be new.

Heidi Matson ©2011

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